So, it’s Macron versus Le Pen, then. In the next two weeks Macron is going to find himself fellated by the European political Establishment and media to such a degree that Barack Obama will feel jealous. Indeed, so hyperbolic will be the accolades leading up to the election that people might be put off voting for him out of pure embarrassment. He is going to be held up as the single person preventing Nuremberg-style rallies being held at the Stade de France every weekend from July onwards, and the saviour of Europe. If the roles were reversed and it were Le Pen who they adored, she would grace front pages of newspapers decked out in white armour.
What’s interesting is foreign heads of state aren’t even pretending to be disinterested any more:
Many European leaders have been congratulating Mr Macron on the first round results – as they are keen to strengthen the union after Brexit.
Mr Macron addressed the nation in front of an EU flag as the results came in – something noticed by both pro and anti-EU politicians.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffan Seibert, tweeted: “It’s good that Emmanuel Macron was successful with his course for a strong EU and social market economy. All the best for the next two weeks.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also congratulated him, as did EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
“The result is the hope and future of our generation,” she tweeted.
Are these people interested in France or the EU?
What’s also interesting is the media still haven’t got their story straight on Macron yet. The original version of the BBC’s article that I linked to had him down as “an outsider”. They’ve since changed this to “newcomer”, presumably when people pointed out that he was about as much an outsider as Ryan Giggs was when he took over at Man Utd at the back-end of the 2013-14 season.
Mr Macron was current President Francois Hollande’s economy minister but quit to create his own party, En Marche, which pushes a liberal, pro-EU agenda.
Even “newcomer” is pushing it. The truth is, the entire France political Establishment in France is set up quite deliberately to exclude outsiders from rising within it, and the same is true for business, the civil service, and anything else deemed important. To progress within these organisations one must come from the grande écoles, and to get the highest positions one must have finished close to the top of the class. The scores somebody gets when at these institutions is something that gets looked and their entire career; I have seen a French company phone book from the mid nineties that had beneath the name of each person the school they went to and the score they got. The chances of an outsider getting to where Macron has found himself in France are precisely nil. Even Le Pen was born into a political household to a father who was known everywhere. She’s no outsider either.
As for his policies: a liberal, pro-EU agenda and promises of economic and social reforms is what damned near every French politician has run on since I can remember. The economic reforms fail at the first sign of protest from the unions, and the social reforms don’t address serious issues such as immigration, terrorism, and collapsing rural communities but stuff like this:
Ban on mobile phone use in schools for under-15s and a €500 culture pass for 18 year olds
France can’t stop people murdering gendarmes on the Champs-Élysées with AK-47s but they are going to police kids bringing phones into schools. Uh-huh.
Macron sounds like another Tony Blair, promising “big tent” centre-ground policies to appease everybody but the fringes thus ensuring his election but, lacking principles or conviction, not being able to deliver on anything. Blair promised “Education, Education, Education” and “tough on the causes of crime” and instead we got micromanagement, a massive increase in the public sector, petty meddling, authoritarianism, paternalism, and an erosion of civil liberties. And after ten years kids still couldn’t read or write and the jails were still full.
France needs this about as much as they need another German invasion. I am sure Macron will win thanks to people feeling they have little other choice; Le Pen represents change, has grasped the immigration nettle, and at least appears to like France more than the EU but her economic policy is no solution for anything. A Macron win will be seen by the European and French policial Establishments as a full endorsement of the status quo and Macron’s muddle-headed policies, and France will be subject to another four years of “more of the same”. Macron’s popularity will collapse and the usual plethora of corruption allegations will surface, and we’ll go through the whole pantomime again next time around.
Things don’t change easily in France.